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00 SEX Condoms

STYLE GADGETS BODY WHEELS CULTURE

Given the vast differences


in penis dimensions,
the one-size-fits-all
approach is unrealistic.
—Michael Reece of the Kinsey Institute
for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

PAUL ARMBRUSTER

FEBRUARY 2006
00

How we
tested
Rubber First we consulted the
professionals—doctors,

Made
safe-sex advocates,
porn-video producers,
and managers of
premium adult boutiques
such as Condomania in
Wearing the wrong condom can Los Angeles, Babeland
really kill your buzz. Cargo went in New York City, and
Good Vibrations in San
to the mattress to find the perfect Francisco. With their
prophylactic for every person help, we narrowed the
test group down to
Most men will make do with whatever condom is 30 (including top new
handy whenever the need—ahem—arises. But is models, old standbys,
“good enough” sex really good enough for you? The and best sellers). Three
fact is, choosing the right tool for the job can mean the samples of each were
difference between a night to remember and good sent to 10 testers who,
night for your member. after using them, filled
What you may not know, however, is that the days out a questionnaire
of numbing, standard-issue combat socks are long rating them for comfort,
over. A casual stroll down the aisles of even the fit, and sensitivity.
average drugstore reveals the overwhelming number The scores were then
of choices available today—regular, large, extra-large, tabulated to determine
super-thin, lubricated, specially coated to heat things the winners.
up (or slow them down with a mild numbing agent),
not to mention all manner of ribbed, colored, and
“shaped for extra pleasure” styles.
“The world of condoms has changed drastically,”
explains Michael Reece, professor at Indiana
University and researcher at the Kinsey Institute for
Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “You
don’t need to pick up the same condom every time
just because it’s familiar. Men should find the one
that’s right for them.”
Of course, bed testing every one of the hundreds
We put the
of brands and varieties available would call for an
individual with serious stamina. So we did the dirty
top picks
work for you. Cargo editors and a team of enthusiastic
helpers put the top condoms through a rigorous
through a
round of human trials. The results ranged from “it
ripped” to “it felt so good I forgot it was on.” After
rigorous
tallying the notches in our bedposts, we picked the
best of the bunch in eight categories. —JOHN F. MEILS
round of
human trials.
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00 SEX Condoms
STYLE GADGETS BODY WHEELS CULTURE

Best Standard
$8.99 Durex Natural Feeling
Professional Box of 12, justrubbers.com.

LOWDOWN The gently lubricated Durex

grade was ranked the most dependable and


comfortable of the all-purpose, traditional
When it comes to pulling on models. In fact, there wasn’t a single
protection, what do porn actors complaint about it. Easy roll-down and
who do it for a living use? the sturdy feel vaulted it to the top of
the heap. One tester said, “It just made
Straight: Condom use on
me feel very safe.” Length: 7.9 ; width: 2.1 ;
heterosexual film sets is
thickness: 0.002 .
inconsistent, according to Sharon
Mitchell, executive director of the

Best Ultra-Thin
Adult Industry Medical Health Care
Foundation. Only two companies,
Vivid and Wicked, are “condom
only,” meaning actors in their films
are always required to use them.
$12 Kimono MicroThin Large
Box of 12, mayerlabs.com.
A spokesperson for Vivid laughs LOWDOWN The Japanese-made
when Cargo pops the question Kimono is almost 40 percent thinner
about what its preferred product is. than standard American condoms.
“Of course, we only use one kind,” “It’s sleek, smooth, and almost
she says. “Vivid brand condoms.” unnoticeable,” said one very pleased
Other companies, however, favor
tester. But it’s still smaller than average,
Crown Skin Less Skin and Beyond
and it can make a man feel squeezed
Seven. The reason? They appear
in if he happens to be a “bigger” guy.
more camouflaged on screen,
Length: 7.7 ; width: 2 (head), 2.1 (shaft);
explains Mitchell. “Crowns are
thickness: 0.001 .
pink, and Beyond Sevens have a
blue hue, which achieves a similar
transparency for black men.”
Gay: Condom use is more prevalent Best New Shape
in gay porn. All the major companies
are condom-only. Brand preferences, $9.99 Inspiral
Box of 12, drugstore.com.
though, are not as uniform. “We
use whatever is around,” says one LOWDOWN Panelists preferred styles
veteran actor. For others, though, with extra room at the top for a looser
bigger is always better. “We use feel. Inspiral has a ring of excess rubber
Trojan Magnums and Magnum all the way around the base of the head,
XLs about 99 percent of the time,” not just underneath it like other “shaped”
says Hot House Entertainment socks. “It looks weird,” said one man,
production manager Robert Drake. “but when the extra latex rubs, it feels
“We’ve been using them for good.” Dissent came from a tester who
years,” he says. “They work thought there was “too much extra
well for us. We haven’t needed plastic.” Length: 7.5 ; width: 2.7 (head),
anything else.” —J.F.M. 2.1 (shaft); thickness: 0.003 .

Best Textured
$2.40 Birds ’N Bees
Pack of three, babeland.com.

LOWDOWN A series of slender rings near


the top as well as an all-over pattern of
“sensi-dots” (little raised nubs the size
of pinheads) make this a ribbed-for-her-
pleasure winner. The Swedish design
received kudos from our female testers: “It
Visit cargomag.com to felt like there was something a little extra
get the lowdown on the best going on.” But some guys did admit that
PAUL ARMBRUSTER

lubes for every kind of they might be intimidated to whip out the
grown-up fun. pink flowery package in front of anyone
but a very intimate partner.
Length: 7.3 ; width: 2.1 ; thickness: 0.002 .

FEBRUARY 2006
00

Best Warming
$12.04 Trojan Shared Pleasure
Box of 12, drugstore.com.

LOWDOWN A thin coat of dehydrated lube


warms things up when it comes in contact
with bodily fluids (to make the latex feel Watch
less cold). This Trojan ranked tops because out for
paper cuts.
it fit better than competitors’ and, according Download,
to one tester, “has the most lubrication.” print, and
cut out this
Women were less impressed. “These should guide to get
be called his pleasure,” noted one, whose a custom-
male partner got a little overheated and size condom
of your own.
pulled the trigger early. condomania
Length: 7.1 ; width: 2.1 ; thickness: 0.055 . .com.

Best Polyurethane
$11.82 Durex Avanti Superthin
Box of six, drugstore.com.

LOWDOWN Just two major companies cater


to the latex-intolerant, those whose skin can

If the
burn from contact with rubber. Durex is the
only brand in this category that doesn’t use

glove fits...
the sometimes-irritating contraceptive lube
nonoxynol-9. Polyurethane doesn’t stretch
much, but it actually conducts heat better
than latex. “It feels like a plastic bag,” said “Given the vast differences in men’s
one tester. “But the alternative is worse.” penis sizes,” says Michael Reece
Length: 7.1 ; width: 2.5 ; thickness: 0.002 . of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana
University, “the one-size-fits-all
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PAUL ARMBRUSTER; COURTESY OF VIVID ENTERTAINMENT GROUP; COURTESY OF HOT HOUSE VIDEO; PAUL ARMBRUSTER (3).

approach is unrealistic.”

Best Extra-Large And he should know, having just


finished working with 1,400 men in
all 50 states as part of “The Condom
$11.51 Trojan Magnum XL
Box of 12, drugstore.com. Fit and Feel Study” at the Kinsey
Institute, in partnership with Indiana
LOWDOWN “Extra-large” is an extra-
University. While the results have
confusing category. For one thing, the label yet to be published, the conclusions
usually means the condom is longer, not have been shared with Cargo:
wider. Magnum XL wins for being both. A comfortable fit is one of the
The XL also comes with more lube to keep most important factors in a man’s
things moving. It even tested well with guys performance and his enjoyment of
of average proportion: “I like the free feeling sex. “When men were able to use
from the extra room,” said one. A word of something that fit properly, they
caution for the overly ambitious: If an XL is rated the overall experience as
too baggy, it can slip off. Length: 8.1 ; width: more satisfying,” says Reece.
2.2 (head), 2.1 (shaft); thickness: 0.055 . If off-the-rack gear isn’t lighting
your fire, you might want to try a
custom-size coat. TheyFit condoms,

Best Smaller available at condomania.com, come


in 55 unique combinations of length
and girth (surprisingly, according to
$9.95 LifeStyles Snugger Fit
Box of 12, condomania.com. TheyFit, no size accounts for more
than 5 percent of sales). To order,
LOWDOWN The average condom is
download, print, and cut out the
about 2 inches wide, while the average
measuring charts (shown above).
penis is around 1.6 inches wide, so Then enter your coordinates online.
we were surprised to find only a few A pack of 12 costs $11.95 and should
closer-fitting options. Lifestyles’ model arrive in about 10 business days. Our
is significantly narrower than average, testers went wild for TheyFits. “It’s
and unlike competitors it is made without like wearing nothing at all,” raved
potentially irritating spermicide. “I hate the one. “These are, seriously, the best
name,” said one man. “Even though it’s I’ve ever used.” —J.F.M.
appropriate.” Length: 7.1 ; width: 1.9 (head),
1.7 (shaft); thickness: 0.003 .